Friday, September 16, 2011

Minocqua Brewing Company - Minocqua, WI

My friend Jamie valiantly steps in with a guest review of her recent Northwoods dining experience. Thanks Jamie!

I had lovely Fish 'N' Chips on the patio of the Mincoqua Brewing Company last Sunday. My cousin and I dined with her English granny (who's been here forever) and her friend (who was visiting from England). I wanted to mention that since I find it entertaining that it was my cousin and I who ordered the fish and chips while they opted for other dishes! Perhaps that's a testament to how strong the Wisconsin appetite for fried fish is!

The fish had an excellent light, crisp breading. For a side, rather than the traditional fries, I opted for the sweet potato fries and received a generous helping. My cousin Ali ordered a side of garlic mashed potatoes. We enjoyed that we had three sides to choose from. As I've probably stated in earlier guest reviews for this site, I do not care for mayo or tarter sauce. One of our dining companions was happy to sample the coleslaw for me. It agreed with her so she finished it all! She liked how fine the cabbage and carrots were chopped and enjoyed the sweetness of the dressing.

The meal was a good value at $10 and the only place the Minocqua Brewing Company faltered was the service. When a cute elderly English lady asks two questions before ordering, it's probably best to answer them politely. My cousin joked to this member of the waitstaff, "Good luck with her!" To which this server replied under their breath so only my cousin could hear "If she wants to eat, she'll need to order." Um, okay. Over-the-top and completely ungenuine niceness followed. My cousin has been there many times over the years as her Grandparents used to live in Mincoqua. She said service has otherwise been pleasant. Perhaps it was just a bad day. I'd hate to think this server hates their job this much everyday. The host was very friendly though.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wilson's Bar & Grill - Madison, WI

The Deal: Wilson's Bar & Grill, on Madison's Near East side, offers a basic fish fry of Icelandic cod,fries, dinner roll, tartar sauce & coleslaw. Three pieces of fish will set you back $7.50, five for slightly more.

The Food: My fish was served piping hot, and until it cooled a bit, it had an unpleasant rubbery texture. After a few moments, the good flakiness came through. I think the exact flavor is best described as "50 years of fish in the deep fryer". This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The fries were good, but nothing special. The dinner roll was surprisingly tasty. Wilson's earned extra points from me by serving the roll with warm packets of butter. Too many restaurants give you rolls with ice cold butter that's impossible to spread. It's the little things, you know?

The Flavor: Get within about 30 feet of Wilson's on a Friday night and you're suddenly hit with an overwhelming and unmistakable fish fry smell. People talk about Wisconsin's "dairy air", but to me the iconic scents of Wisconsin are fish in the deep fryer, brats parboiling in beer & onions and paper mills (sorry, but that's the Central Wisconsin in me talking). Once inside, you quickly realize that Wilson's is sports bar heaven, particularly on a night with both a Packers & a Brewers game. TV screens line the bar and some tables even have individual TVs. As an added bonus, Wilson's features the most eclectic karaoke this side of Minneapolis' Vegas Lounge. Nice!

There was only one waiter handling the room when I was there and he worked his ass off. On the plus side, I think he at least had an easy time taking orders since the only thing coming out of the kitchen all night was fish fry after fish fry. Clearly, Wilson's has a reputation. I've had better dive bar fish frys, but Wilson's is fast and in the neighborhood and you can get your fish fry on without slacking in your support of The Crew!

Second Opinions:

Cool Dadio
Madison Fish Fry

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Green Owl Cafe - Madison, WI

The Deal: The Green Owl Cafe on Madison's Near East side may be a vegetarian restaurant, but it's a vegetarian restaurant in Wisconsin, so therefore, like any good Wisconsin joint, they offer a Friday night fish fry. The mere idea of a faux fish fry caused some controversy on our Facebook page, but I'm glad the vegetarians and vegans among us have this option. Just because you don't eat meat, doesn't mean you're not a Sconnie.

So anyway, the Green Owl's fish fry is $12.95 and includes two faux fish fillets, rosemary potatoes, coleslaw and tartar sauce and a choice of soup or salad.

The Food: My salad, while small, was light & delicious with a good balsamic dressing. My dining companion enjoyed a coconut corn chowder. The coconut was basically for texture, so the corn flavor was able to shine through.

Now for the moment of truth. I actually thought the "fish" was great. It was some soy product, so, no, you're not going to get a nice, flaky fish texture. Instead, I'd say the texture was more like a Chicken McNugget. The key was that the breading pretty much perfectly replicated the flavor of a traditional fish fry. The potatoes were excellent, with a nice rosemary flavor, they were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Neither me nor my dining companion opted for the coleslaw or tartar sauce. Our waitress explained that both are made with a "vegannaise". That's cool, but my problem with mayo isn't that there might be animals products in it, it's that it tastes disgusting. Sorry mayo lovers, that's just how I roll.

The Flavor: I think the Green Owl must have been a house in some distant past. It's a bright and quirky little building with funky tables and veggie art. The waitstaff was friendly and efficient and, beyond the fish fry, the menu looked interesting. I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm willing to have the occasional meat-free meals. The stuffed red pepper entree sounds great and the haloumi cheese appetizer I had was delicious (although really, since haloumi cheese is pretty much the greatest thing on earth, you really can't screw it up).

The beer list was small, but interesting, as was the choice of cocktails, including a lavender/gin concoction and a nice summertime mango & passion fruit vodka drink. Refreshing!

Second Opinions:
77 Square
Eating in Madison A to Z
Happy Cow
Madison Fish Fry

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Longhouse at North Star Mohican Casino - Bowler, WI

My friend Jamie went up North and re-reviewed the new fish fry at The Longhouse, now featuring a buffett!

In summer, the far-flung members of my family usually spend some time in their native Shawano County and this almost always includes a meal or two (or three+ in the case of my Auntie & Grandma) at The Longhouse. I made it there in time for Friday Fish Fry! The Friday Fish Fry at the Longhouse is a bit different than when I reviewed it last summer.

It is now a buffet, featuring both beer-battered and baked haddock. This also includes a salad bar with a non-iceberg lettuce mix and assortment of toppings and dressing. Looked great but I passed right on by the salad and started my meal both a corn muffin & a piece of marble rye bread. I always love the option to have both baked and fried fish. The side was perfectly crispy wedges of red potatoes. The fish was perfectly battered and flavorful (I also had the good fortune of arriving just as they were refilling the tray with a fresh batch). Should one be so inclined (as I am not) there is a Lemon & Dill Remoulade sauce & coleslaw to accompany your fish.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Flannery's Wilhem Tell - New Glarus, WI

The Deal: Flannery's is in Wisconsin's "Little Switzerland", beautiful New Glarus, located about 45 minutes southwest of Madison. As befitting a traditional Wisconsin supper club, Flannery's offers an $11 fish fry on Friday nights. Meals include dinner rolls, coleslaw or applesauce, choice of potato and baked or fried cod. You can get salad for (I believe) $1.50 extra.

The Food: My table kicked off the evening with some cheese curds. Flannery's cheese curds were among the best any of us have ever had this side of a state fair or the World Dairy Expo. They were just lightly breaded so you got the full flavor of the cheese instead of the deep fryer.

None of us opted for salad, but the coleslaw appeared to be homemade and was allegedly very fresh (I don't touch the stuff). The applesauce was excellent and had a nice hint of vanilla. Flannery's dinner rolls, were actually rolls instead of glorified bread slices, which was nice. They would have been perfect if they were still warm and a little crusty, but alas, you can't have everything.

Both the baked and fried fish was simply excellent. The baked cod was firm and flaky and frankly didn't need the butter it was served with because the fish itself actually had enough flavor. The fried version was equally good, with a thin batter that didn't overwhelm the tasty fish inside.

On the potato front, Flannery's, unlike most places in Madison, offers potato pancakes served with applesauce. I was quick to snap these up and couldn't have been more pleased with the result: lots of onion and potato goodness. Mmmmm. One of my dining companions opted for the famous roesti potatoes (basically, a swiss dish of hash browns and swiss cheese) and frankly, while they were delicious, the potato pancakes were so good that they trumped cheesy potatoes. Yep, I know, that's shocking!

The Flavor: One great thing about Wisconsin supper clubs is that they'll make you feel young. The average age of the diners at Flannery's Friday night was pushing 60. That's not a bad thing though, as the older generations certainly know their fish. They also know their classic cocktails, so we were able to take advantage of some perfect Old Fashioneds and Grasshoppers.

Although I've never been to a quaint Swiss mountain restaurant, I imagine that it would look something like Flannery's, minus the convenient access to delicious New Glarus Brewing Company beer: wood paneling and tsotchkes, although I'm disappointed I didn't notice any alpenhorns. I guess you can't have everything, although Flannery's comes close with this excellent fish fry.

Second Opinions:

Yahoo! Travel

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stanley's Northeast Bar Room - Minneapolis, MN

The Deal: Stanley's, in Northeast Minneapolis, offers fish & chips, featuring beer battered cod, for a little over $10 and a walleye sandwich for about $8. The fish & chips come with fries and a huge vat of tartar sauce. The walleye sandwich is served with kettle chips.

The Food: while the cod itself was decently tasty and flaky, the batter wasn't crispy enough. It wasn't mushy, but it wasn't standing up to the fish either. I got two nice sized pieces of fish with my meal, but it wasn't worth eating more than half of a piece. The fries, on the other hand, were excellent and gives me faith that Stanley's really does know how to use their deep fryer. My dining companion had the walleye sandwich and reported back that the batter was crispy, so perhaps my cod was an outlier.

The Flavor: Stanley's is on the nice end of blue collar bars. You won't find many skinny-jean wearing hipsters here. Instead, the crowd's a bit older and a bit more likely to wear Carhartt. The bar has a lot of fun events like team trivia and bar bingo.

There's a huge beer list, heavy on local beers, local as in Minnesota though, not Wisconsin. On the downside, someone decided that the dinner rush was the perfect time to get a huge ladder and put a clock on the wall. Weirdos. :)

Second Opinions:

Thrifty Hipster

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kollman's Korner - Leroy, WI

Special thanks to Tim from our Facebook page for providing this rare review of an actual Eastern Wisconsin fish fry. I don't get around to those parts very much! Tim says:

Last night we went to Kollman's Korner in Leroy (eastern Dodge county, near the Horicon Marsh). I remember going there a few times as a kid. It probably looks the same inside as it did 35 years ago. It’s very nice, a step back in time and with all the same old people. The weather was very warm, but they had on sweaters and long pants and jackets. It was nursing home warm! Remember this for winter!

The food was really good though. Zoe had the haddock with potato pancakes. I had the walleye with german potato salad. They also brought bread and cole slaw. The cole slaw was really good, and the potato pancakes were very homemade, nice browned edges, tasty. The german potato salad was okay, ours is better. The beer batter on the fish was so good, as good as at The Pub but a lot lighter. Best walleye I've had. They looked like viking long boats made of batterered fish (editor's note - please forgive Tim the "Viking" reference).

On the board when you come in they have the menu listed and we also notice hickory nut pie. so we put in our dessert order when they brought the fish. It was the best pie I've EVER had; perfect crust, drizzled with caramel, a scoop of ice cream, real whipped cream. I want it every day. It was the heroin of desserts. Oh man...

I guess we have to go there again because on Saturday nights they have steak and prime rib specials and I think maybe the salad bar then? They didn't have it for fish. And... on Saturday nights they have $1.00 grasshoppers (editor's note: Woohoo!).